Thursday, September 30, 2010

Heavy Winds Cause Havoc

Early Christian Art occasionally included images of squirrels to emphasize an aphorism or moral. One such painting of St Jerome depicts a squirrel using the protection of its tail to endure a harsh storm.The inscription reads “Durabo,et quondam res expectado secunda  Quamis nuc male sit,non male simper erit”(I shall endure and expect once again more favorable things however bad it is now,it won’t be bad forever.)

I got caught in the winds tonight when I was downtown in the Wall St area and could barely get to the bus stop. I heard there were winds and storms up and down the coast from as far south as the Carolinas. And heavy winds destroyed the tent homes of about 12,000 Haitians living in tent camps. Those poor suffering people,  like the squirrels.

Tomorrow I will go over and check PCV. Will there be any dreys left?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Okay-- so all squirrels are not perfect

They have their little deviations. They can be bullies, they can be hyper, they can try to dominate, they can be greedy and selfish, they can be stand-offish. Sound familiar?

I was amazed how the leg of the little black baby (whom I now call Beebee because he answers to that) was improved. His toes, which had been swollen and red colored, are back to normal. He still has a bad leg and a limp. But he's on the mend. Amazing what good nutrition can do for a sick squirrel.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why I love squirrels

Well we finally got the much-needed rain. And the not-needed wind along with it. I took a quick run over to PCV when the sun finally peeked through at 5pm. There I found lots of wet squirrels. And lots of leaves blown off the trees. It should be easier to spot Babygirl now when she's up a tree. Right now she's dry and toasty at home.

There were also many of those branches that make up the squirrels' dreys scattered all over the place. In fact while I was standing by the fountain I heard a huge plop! and saw that a large pile had dropped from a tree. It was such a heavy sound that I thought maybe there was a squirrel entangled in it, but careful inspection proved that it was only branchs from the drey.

Poor little squirrelies! They can't even keep their homes safe and sound with these strong winds we've been having. I wish I could do more to make their lives easier.

Thinking about this made me realize why I love squirrels. They work hard, yet they are constantly beset by Nature's vagaries. And they do nothing to deserve it. They've built some truly impressive nests so far this year, yet these can be blown away in one good storm.

Another thing that makes me love squirrels is that when I give one a nut,  before running away with it, the squirrel will often look up at me as if to say "thank you". Sweet or what?

And here's yet another reason why I love squirrels. See these pictures of Rama Rota and the baby bird? There is no thought in that little head of his of going after the bird, only curiosity. He knows it's not a Stuffie. Wonderful!

Squirrels are victims, not victimizers. Squirrels try to do the right thing, like building nests, burying nuts, caring for babies and fending off predators. Squirrels are polite. Squirrels are perfect. And that is why I love them so.

I fed the little black baby with the bum leg. The leg did not look worse today, and maybe even a little bit better. He still has a good appetite. But he has a hunched back and his leg sticks out.  

There will not be any more squirrel pictures because my camera has gone on the blink -- boohoo :(

If anyone can donate an old digital camera that works please contact me at

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Slow Release Day 6: Babygirl's Big Adventure

Bernie went over to PCV early this morning and spent about 3 hours searching for Babygirl, with no luck. Later in the day I decided to take a break and go look for her. I went to the same spot we'd seen her in last, but there was no sign of her.  However I did see the little black one with the swollen leg. His rear left leg is so swollen that it hangs off from his body. It's full of pus and needs to drain. We had seen him for the first time yesterday when we were concerning ourselves with Babygirl.

I called Bernie who decided to come over with his net to try and catch the little fellow. As I tried to distance myself while Bernie moved in on him, I thought I saw a glimpse of gold in the tree where we'd left Babygirl, but then figured  it was my imagination. Gold because her tail has been bleached, which helps identify her. When you see the usual silverly glint of a squirrel's tail from a distance you immediately know it's not her.

Bernie was unable to catch the little black one, and ended up chasing it into the bushes and up a tree. We knew that was it, and he would not be coming down again. Bernie hates scaring a sick squirrel when they're already suffering, and he was feeling
dejected about it when suddenly I shouted "There she is!" And then he saw it too -- the flash of gold shooting down the tree -- the very same tree we'd left her in the night before!

She moved like the wind, and gave him a run for his money, but finally allowed herself to be caught. Even though she was squirming and growling when he grabbed her, she didn't struggle all that much, and didn't seem to mind at all when he kissed her. :) He took her all the way home in a cab in his bare hands, as he had not  expected to find her and had not brought the carrier.

He said she acted perfectly normal when she got home, and was playing with him on the bed, not sulking or pouting. Her little friend Julie was excited to have her back!  She was not hungry but she went straight to the water bowl. We've been worried that the squirrels aren't able to find enough water. We've had several hot days in a row with no rain.

Anyway, I'm glad that Bernie's trip was not wasted. And that Babygirl is home again. Now we have to look out for the little black one.  Speaking of little black ones, Bernie said that as he came across the park he saw a very small black baby over by the flag pole. My guess is it's the first sighting of one of Spunky's babies!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Slow Release Day 5: Babygirl's Big Adventure

I found out from some friends on the Squirrel Board that this is not a "soft release". A "soft release" is when you put the squirrel in a cage outside for maybe as long as a week to get used to the Great Outdoors. This helps them overcome their insecurity. Squirrels are sensitive little creatures. They need this. You can "hard release" a raccoon or a possum by opening your car door and dropping them out, but that doesn't work for squirrels. I think that's been the problem for Babygirl.

So maybe we should call this a "slow release", where the squirrel goes out to play then goes home at the end of the day. But so far it doesn't seem to be working that well for Babygirl, and seems to be more of a nightmare than a big adventure.

This morning Bernie called to say that Babygirl was going ballistic, bouncing off the walls with all her excess energy, and he thought he'd release her again. Well she turned out not to like the idea at all. She chattered angrily at him when he took her out of her carrier, to show her displeasure with the idea.

She hid from the other squirrels in the hedges, then finally climbed up a tree and went into statue mode again. All her earlier energy was gone and she was now in a deep funk. She was hanging over a branch like a limp dishrag from about 2:30pm until we left at around dusk, never moving a muscle.  Thank goodness the hawks have left the area!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Soft Release Day 4: Babygirl's Big Adventure

Babygirl has been found!

Bernie found her early this morning in the little park just northwest of where she'd been  released. She was over there with some other squirrels doing just fine, thank you very much -- well -- maybe a tad hungry is all.  He threw her an almond, which she took, then another as he got closer, and finally she jumped up on his arm. Guess she was pretty glad to see her dad! And he's been a good dad indeed. Babygirl is now back at home, playing and resting up for her next big adventure.


All's Well that Ends Well

Monday, September 20, 2010

Soft Release Day 3: Babygirl's Big Adventure

Bernie got up at 6am and went to look for Babygirl, arriving just after dawn. No sign of her in the tree or on the ground. At least she hadn't fallen and been killed. But where was she?

Periodically throughout the day each of us checked on her. At one point we met up, and sat talking on a bench while watching the lawn for Babygirl. We walked around in the different directions she might have wandered, but didn't see her. Come nightfall there was still no sign of Babygirl. Where could she be, we wondered?  Maybe she had climbed into a hole in the tree and was sleeping there? She must be hungry by now. What a mystery.

To be continued...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soft Release Day 2: Babygirl's Big Adventure

I had an early call from Bernie that he was bringing Babygirl back to PCV today. By the time I arrived she had already been released and he told me I had just missed the big excitement: she'd had a confrontation in a tree with an adult squirrel and there had been a skirmish, followed by a loud PLOP! as one of them fell from the tree. To Bernie's relief it was not Babygirl but the much larger squirrel that had fallen. The feisty little dynamo had won a turf battle on her second day out!

As he was telling me this I watched her climb a tall tree. Up, up, up she went, finally stopping to rest where the branches formed a vee.  She stayed there forever, motionless as a statue. We hung around for over an hour, but she never moved. Bernie said that squirrels do that sometimes, not to worry. But I worried. She was so high up in that tree! And nothing - not even her tail - ever moved. He eventually went to get some refreshments while I kept watching the tree. Nothing happened. We finally both had to leave as the day wore on.

I had some shopping to do, but returned later that afternoon to check on her. I did not see her in the tree, so I started hunting around for her, to no avail. Finally Bernie arrived and found that she was still up in the tree! She had moved laterally to the other side, where I'd neglected to look. She was no longer sitting in the vee, but was just hanging there motionless, hugging the tree. Hawk bait.

Luckily, the hawks seem to have left the PCV area. We think  winters may have been too harsh for them here, and many may have left the city. I can see from reading the sidebar Watching the Enemy that they're still breeding in Riverside Park, but the last time I saw any at PCV was early last winter when there was pack of maybe 9 or 10 of them sitting on the rooftop of one of the buildings here, and they all took off in unison, flying south. I don't believe they ever came back. Throughout last  winter I never saw another hawk. So we were not too worried about her having an encounter with a hawk.

We set up watch, trying to call her down. She neither went up or down but would only move horizontally around the tree. It dawned
on us that she was simply too petrified to climb down. Perhaps
her fall yesterday compounded by the other squirrel's
fall today contributed to her fear. Or maybe just looking down at the ground from that height was causing paralysis. For whatever  reason, Babygirl the Gladiator had met her come-uppance and was rooted to the spot.

Bernie was kicking himself for releasing her by such a tall tree. He walked around looking at all the smaller trees that would have been safer for practicing her first climbs. When it got dark we finally had to go, but it was hard leaving the little squirrel clinging to the tree. Would she be able to stay that way all night long? Would she fall asleep,  then fall to the ground? Would she eventually come down after dark when she couldn't see enough to be scared?

To be continued...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Soft Release Day 1: Babygirl's Big Adventure

The time had come to start a soft release program for Babygirl. Here she is back in May:


Today she's a total dynamo, strong and muscular and built like a sumo wrestler, a proud testament to her dad's Kozy Shack infant formula (which consists of Kozy Shack tapioca pudding and hazelnut milk).
The babies love it and lap it up. And the recent addition of some delicious cuisine minceur - fresh, locally found baby acorns -  has rounded out her powerful physique. When she visited my place a few weeks ago it was non-stop energy all afternoon, with her running back and forth and jumping up and down--  even on me!  After she left I was so exhausted from watching her that I needed an immediate nap.

What to do with all that pent-up energy? Perhaps it was time to introduce Babygirl to the Great Outdoors. So her dad took her over to Peter Cooper Village, having decided that it was an ideal environment. It's truly a squirrel's paradise, with big, shady trees, plenty of hedges for hiding and great lawns for foraging. Plus many Nice Humans for frequent feedings. And the weather has taken a turn for the better these days, with an endless series of golden autumn days. So it's the perfect time and place.

And so... here we go!

Come out, come out!

I don't know...

Dad, I don't think so...

It did take some persuasion, but her aggressive and dynamic nature took over, and soon Babygirl was cautiously exploring the hedges, checking out the lawn beyond and running up and down the trees just a little ways. She didn't go very far up which was good, because once we heard a PLOP! and saw that she'd actually fallen from a tree. Luckily no harm done. Climbing trees was a learning experience for Babygirl, and we could see that she was climbing a bit hesitantly and awkwardly. She had been rescued before her eyes had opened, when she would have still been in a nest. Apparently climbing trees does not come naturally even to a tree squirrel! Who knew?

Babygirl spent a while getting used to the territory and the other squirrels that were milling around. She became fairly relaxed and even started burying nuts (her favorite activity).

That was fun Dad, but can we go home now?

After her first day outside, Babygirl gets to go home.

Friday, September 10, 2010

babies falling from trees

This has the makings of  a shaggy squirrel story. First I met a man over by the fountain who told me there was a woman over by the flagpole who was wearing a running suit, who had found a baby squirrel and did not know what to do with it. He said he had seen her just 5 minutes ago, so I rushed across the park hoping to catch up with her. When I arrived there was no woman with a squirrel to be found. I began walking around looking for a baby squirrel on the ground. Then a UPS man came over and told me that a while ago he had seen a baby squirrel over by Bldg. 510, which is the easternmost building in the park. So we walked over there but there was no baby squirrel there now.  He said it had been right by the entrance, acting like it was trying to get in the front door. He peered into the lobby as if it might already be in there.  I spent some time searching around, but finally left when it began to get dark.

Later that evening I was speaking with Bernie Goetz, who  had called from upstate and unfortunately was not around to help, but he said he'd heard from a woman who found a baby squirrel that he was going to retrieve as soon as he got back. I figured that must be the woman in the running suit by the fountain.   I was glad to hear that and asked him to be on the lookout for the other baby as well, who might be still out there. He retrieved the one but wasn't able to find the other, so later that day I went back to search again. I was delayed feeding the other squirrels who had decided to be very hungry that day, so it was late by the time I got back to the spot where the baby had been seen by the UPS man.

There  I met a woman with a dog, who told me that just a little while ago she had seen TWO baby squirrels! She said they must have fallen from their nest and pointed to a tree by the park entrance where there was  a  large nest.  She said that one of its nest mates was already dead on the ground, but this one was alive and running around all over the place! She said it ran up a man's pants leg, then it ran straight towards her dog! "So you know it was acting crazy" she laughed. "Throw some nuts around for it" she sang out as she left. I didn't find it funny. I spent time looking for the poor little thing but to no avail.   I was cursing myself for always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact I was heartsick about it.

A couple days later I was sitting on a bench having fun with my new friend Tom. Tom's a pigeon that thinks he's a squirrel. I've never fed  pigeons because I hate the way they all flock around all over you. But Tom was different, because he actually kept other pigeons at bay while I was trying to feed the squirrels. I liked that. So I started throwing an occasional shelled peanut morsel at Tom. And Tom liked that. Of course he didn't have a name yet.

Then a pretty young woman with a big basket sat down next to me on the bench and asked, "Would you like to see my squirrels?"

I said "Sure!"

She opened her basket and brought out a baby -- and it turned out to be the same baby that had been acting crazy the other day! She said its sibling had died but that she was able to save this little one. When she found it, it was unconscious on the ground but still breathing. Now it seemed to be just fine and looked up at me with a curious little face.  I was so relieved to find out it had been saved because I was still worried about it! Then she showed me the other one that she was given by a vet who was a bit younger and hadn't opened his eyes yet. She let me hold both of them. What a thrill.

Then she noticed my pigeon and told me about Henry, who is a pigeon that she'd recently healed and released.   I think it was the one that has no left foot but does very well in spite of that. He's very aggressive. She said he comes to the name Henry when you call him, and that I should give my pigeon a name. She said they're very smart, as smart as Dolphins. So that is how Tom got named (although I have no idea if he's a Tom or not, and really have no desire to know). But he is funny. When he's not scaring the other birds away or scaring the squirrels away, he creeps up close to my feet to grab a nut the same way a squirrel does it -- sneaking up slowly and sort of crouching so as (it believes)  not to attract attention - then either quickly grabbing the nut or sometimes losing its nerve and backing away. She said pigeons love peanuts for some reason. Maybe because they think they're squirrels?

So it looks like a nest of babies somehow lost their mama, but at least two were saved and have homes for the moment. Bernie now has his hands full with Baby Girl and Julie as well as the new baby and also an injured adult that arrived around the same time.

Bernie with Baby Girl and Julie

Can you spot the squirrel?
(hint: Baby Girl is burying a nut!)